Monday, July 23, 2012

The Vortex of Self-Loathing

Of the many things I hate about myself -- and there are quite a few -- my temper is definitely near the top of the list. Is it nature? Nurture? I often think of it more as an issue of self-discipline, or lack thereof.

The fact that Rayne loves me despite the numerous irrational, explosive episodes he has witnessed -- usually not directed at him, I want to add, but definitely in his orbit of existence -- should make me feel better, but it doesn't. I rather feel like, on top of everything, I've duped him into doing something I don't deserve. Like, for his own good, he should flat out refuse to tolerate one more outburst.

On Saturday I had one of the most infuriating customer service experiences of my life. The details are irrelevant; let's just say you should never, ever, ever, ever, ever go to Essential Therapy Spa for any reason. I completely lost my shit. I actually told someone that I wanted to rip his face off. Granted, it was a bad situation, I was definitely in the right and, well, I did want to rip his face off, but somehow in 37 years I have not mastered the art of holding my tongue in such situations of perceived injustice.

Immediately after any given eruption, I always burst into a torrent of tears and spiral into a vortex of self-loathing straight out of a Jonathan Franzen novel. I cry to the point despair. It's not like I think this is appropriate behavior and the world just needs to stand aside while I tear it asunder. I just haven't figured out how to control my inner Hulk. 

Yes, I have worked on it over the years. I've had ebbs and flows, some better periods and some worse ones. Yoga helps; for me it is a laboratory to practice equanimity in the face of adversity.

At present, I am fairly sleep-deprived, hormonally imbalanced and out of practice composing myself in a professional environment. I don't work out or practice yoga as much as I should. I spend my days with a seven-month old baby and a completely neurotic dog who trips me every time we exit our building because he is afraid of the door for a reason I cannot begin to fathom. In short, while I am happy, I am also a little... shall we say... spiky. Which was why I was at Essential Therapy trying to get a massage in the first place. Ah, the irony.

Yesterday's incident was certainly not my first temper tantrum, and it won't be the last.* But suddenly, I am not alone in the vortex of self-loathing. There's a little boy here with me, a little boy who smiles innocently and blissfully every time he sees me. How can I prevent him from adopting this terrible, maladaptive character trait of mine?

There is, undoubtedly, a nature component to everything. But so far, he is a pretty chill baby. He smiles easily and amuses himself without issue. Who knows, maybe he inherited the gene, if it exists, that makes me go from just regular "angry" to honestly, truly wanting to rip someone's face off and then telling said person about this desire. At the moment, it seems unlikely.

Learned behavior is hard to undo, even when you are aware of it. I don't want to teach Henry to be like this. It sucks for others and it sucks for me.

So the question is: How do you stop being yourself so your child doesn't emulate the parts of you that you hate?

Anyone...? Anyone...? Bueller...?

*Wouldn't it be amazing if I could actually say that July 21, 2012 was my last tantrum? I should start giving myself pins for composure milestones. Put that achievement-orientation to good use!